Sustainability, brand identity, clear, emotional design, instinctive interaction. And last but not least, formal beauty. These are the main themes of the C40 Recharge, the first “full electric” car and the first Suv-coupé from the Swedish manufacturer. We tracked the car’s genesis with the Volvo design team in Gothenburg.
Suv and coupé
Born out of a free sketch aimed at exploring possible sporty configurations for the XC40 SUV, the C40 Recharge retains the raised stance that is currently trending and combines it with a coupé bodywork and distinctive, steeply sloping roofline.
“From that first sketch, I immediately grasped the more emotional image of electric mobility and we decided this model would have a future”, says Page.
Details that increase efficiency
Although the platform on which it is built (the CMA) can also accommodate i.c. or hybrid engines, the C40 Recharge possesses a number of aesthetic features typical of an electric car: “The absence of a front grille, replaced by a body-coloured panel, adds to the vehicle’s aerodynamic efficiency, as do the specific design of the wheels, the clean profile and the truncated tail”, explains T John Mayer, Head of Exterior Design.
An Android based infotainment
The C40 Recharge’s multimedia system is Android-based and its content can be updated over the air. “The system’s potential is enormous”, explains Thomas Stovicek, head of Volvo’s User Experience department since 2020. The task of the department headed by Stovicek, who has also worked at Facebook, is to design all system graphics (except for Google Maps) transmitted by the two instrument and infotainment displays.
Spacious and functional interiors
The interior layout has remained faithful to the XC40: “We didn’t need to overhaul an environment that was immediately thought of as really functional and roomy, ideal also for an electric model”, explains Lisa Reeves, head of Interior Design. “Instead, we focused on sustainability issues, looking for innovative solutions for materials and upholstery for seats, carpeting, dashboard and all the elements that surround the driver and passengers”.
Sustainable and lightweight coatings
We are talking about a radical change of pace: “The C40 Recharge is the first Volvo for which leather upholstery is not available”, says Rekha Meena, Senior Design Manager Colour & Material. “Customers can choose from six different interior settings in combination with upholstery that originates from recycled PET bottles or is made from natural fibres of great visual impact, quality and durability”. These upholstery options also weigh less than conventional ones, with direct benefits in terms of the range of the 78 kWh battery pack.
by Silvia Baruffaldi, Edoardo Nastri
(Full article in A&D no. 248)